The Invitational Week 61: Captions Courageous
Write a description for any of six photos. Plus our winning 'Why Not' questions.
FEB 29, 2024

Why is this comic strip here today? Because it represents a new collaboration between The Invitational and the Comics World at Large. This is the first of a series of “dad jokes vs. grandpa jokes” from a recent Invitational contest; Gene instantly grabbed a few to use in his syndicated comic strip, “Barney & Clyde,” on which the grandpa joke challenge had been based. This one was by Jon Gearhart. More to follow.

Hello. This is Gene. Happy Leap Day. Are you at work today? Why? Honor the memory of Karl Savage and go home right now.

Our New Contest
For Invitational Week 61: Write a caption — as many as 25 total — for any of the pictures below. Begin each caption only with the letter on the picture — as in “A. [your caption].” For guidance, inspiration, and plain ol’ entertainment, take a look at the results of Week 22 and the results of Week 49 to see what we like in a caption. Don’t bother tracking down the source of the original photo; that shouldn’t be the point of your caption.

(All photos via Getty Images)

Click here for this week’s entry form, or go to As usual, you may submit up to 25 entries for this week’s contest, preferably all on the same form. Also as usual, please submit each individual entry as a single continuous line; i.e., don’t push Enter in the middle of your joke.

Deadline is Saturday, March 9, at 9 p.m. ET. Results will run here in The Gene Pool on Thursday, March 14.

The winner gets a cute plushie dopamine molecule key chain, complete with winsome eyes and a purple baseball cap. This is by far the cuddliest 1 million-scale pleasure-provoking neurotransmitter we have ever fondled. Donated by the truly dope Dave Prevar.

Dopamine key chain
The key to your pleasure: This week’s prize, a little dopamine guy as a fob. (

Inking Outside the Box: ‘Why Not’ ideas from Week 59
In Invitational Week 59 we saluted “Why Not?,” the new, thought-provoking feature by Daniel Pink in The Washington Post (first question: “Why not pay teachers $100,000 a year?”), by inviting some rather more comical Why Nots of your own. A number of the entries suggested things that already exist — among them divorce showers, frozen food from fine restaurants, and dictionaries to translate your grandkids’ vocabularies.

Third runner-up:
Why not put urinal cakes in public stairwells? It’s not like it’d encourage anybody to do something they don’t do already. (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md.)

Second runner-up:
Why not give new car horns a range of honks and beeps that everyone would learn to understand? They could range from “Hi!” to “Um, the light’s green” all the way up to “You #%@*ing $@&*!” (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore; Joel Golden, Fort Washington, Md.)

First runner-up:
Why not provide the majority and minority whips in Congress with real whips to keep the hardhead rogues in line? (Neil Kurland, Elkridge, Md.)

And the winner of the Gumby-on-the-toilet desk set:
Along with Congress’s parliamentary rules, why not add a rule from elementary school: No recess till your work is done. (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)

Perish the Thought: Honorable mentions
Why not end the Biden BORDER CATASTROPHE and stock the Rio Grande with great white sharks? — D.J.T. (Steve Smith)

Why not replace those Gmail-suggested automatic replies like “Great!” and “No thanks!” with more interesting ones, like “Hippos don’t eat pickles!” and “That’s what yo mama said!”? I would definitely use those more. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

Why not design home workout equipment with clothes-hanging hooks, just from the get-go? (Jesse Frankovich, Laingsburg, Mich.)

Why not make marshmallow Lego blocks to minimize foot pain and maximize snack time? (Kevin Dopart, Washington, D.C.)

In football, why not replace field goal and extra-point kicks with something else? We’re already stopping a game of high-energy, maximum-contact blocking, tackling, running, and passing so that some little guy can come out and see how well he can kick a ball while standing still and looking like a ballerina. For variety, why not have the player do something equally unlike the rest of the game, like juggle, or answer a trivia question, or do bird calls? (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

Instead of creating dedicated bike lanes that take up big chunks of city streets, why not equip cars with bike catchers that would scoop cyclists up and deposit them lightly at the next intersection? (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

When Trump refuses to appear in a debate, why not replace him with a wax caricature instead of an empty chair? If the wax melts under the hot lights, even better. (Neil Kurland)

Why doesn’t Tucker Carlson find a way to fit his entire head in Vladimir Putin’s butt? No point in stopping with the lips, really. (Duncan Stevens)

Why not build a pile of dirt so high that it reaches outer space? That would save the waste of rocket fuel, and you could just drive up to work on the satellites! (Joel Golden)

Why not cover car exteriors with Zectron, the stuff the SuperBall was made of? In a collision, cars would just bounce apart like ping-pong balls in a lottery machine. (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)

Why not design a lightweight portable tabletop tent so that a couple having an affair could dine at a restaurant in privacy? (Jonathan Jensen)

Why not genetically modify vegetables to taste like ice cream? Okra Winfreeze would be very popular with members of Weight Watchers. (Jon Gearhart)

Why not hire orchestra musicians for the Oscar telecast who aren’t so darn eager and impatient? Those guys constantly start in while the awardees are still talking! (Duncan Stevens)

Why not increase support for the LGBTQ community by starting a rumor that the Q stands for QAnon? (Gary Crockett)

Why not stay quiet when the lion is sleeping tonight near the village, the peaceful village? I don’t imagine it’ll be pleased to be awakened by yodeling. (Duncan Stevens)

Why not use DNA to clone the Founding Fathers, who could then tell the Supreme Court what they really had in mind? (Steve Smith)

Why not wire the seats on gym weight machines to deliver a small shock to anyone sitting around longer than it takes to do a slow set — just enough juice to knock their damn phone out of their hand? (Terri Berg Smith, Rockville, Md.)

Why not include one extra sock with every pair of socks sold? Save countless hours of laundry day searches! (Judy Freed, Deerfield Beach, Fla.)

To eliminate speeding completely, why not change all speed limits to 300 mph? (Gary Crockett)

Why not do what the Vatican does in selecting a Pope, and lock everyone in Congress inside the Capitol if they can’t agree on a budget or Speaker of the House? (Gregory Koch, Falls Church, Va.)

Why not find a strong man who can lift his own weight with just his arms, then put him in an armchair and see if he can fly away! (Jon Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.)

Why not lower the minimum wage, so stores and restaurants can reduce prices to the levels in Russia? — T. Carlson (Steve Smith)

Why not make a new “Mission: Impossible” movie in which the mission is to bring peace to the Middle East? (Tom Cruise always finds a way!) (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Why not make Congress
Filibuster in haiku?
That should speed things up. (Jon Gearhart)

Why not put Gas-X in cattle feed? (Steve Smith)

Why not put tinfoil linings straight into MAGA ball caps? (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

Why not replace the music in public bathrooms with soundtrack loops of bodily emissions? No more worries about making embarrassing noises — relax and join the chorus! (Judy Freed)

Why not require millionaires to drive electric vehicles? Soon there would be rechargers everywhere. Or at least everywhere you’d want to go. (Steve Smith)

Why not rewrite Genesis without the Tree of Knowledge? Then everyone could walk around naked, as originally planned, and not give it a second thought. (Beverley Sharp)

Why not use gene editing to create fire-breathing dragons and use them for snow removal? (Gary Crockett)

With those trigger warnings all over social media, why not have trigger warnings on actual guns? (Judy Freed)

The headline “Inking Outside the Box” is by Mark Raffman; Jesse Frankovich wrote the honorable-mentions subhead.

Still running — deadline 9 p.m. ET Saturday, March 2: Our Week 60 contest for diary entries for people throughout history. Click on the link below.

Idea: ()
Examples: ()
Title: (Mark Raffman)
Subhead: (Jesse Frankovich)
Prize: (Dave Prevar)